SAD Transition

Fall season arrived with cooler weather, lots of rain, and shorter days — which also meant less sunlight — which makes me feel… so SAD. The SAD syndrome, also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder is a common problem that affects many people. It’s not something that I think about and yet the SADness creeps up on me and makes me want to sing the blues. Living in the rainy Pacific Northwest definitely makes the situation more frequent for me. Although SAD is most common in the fall and winter because of the shorter daylight hours — the disorder can happen in other seasons as well. I know I feel the symptoms in the spring and summer when we have continuous cloudy, rainy days for weeks.

While I’m glad to know there is a scientific explanation and that I am not alone in this predicament — it is still frustrating to feel the affects of SAD. It alters the mood, metabolism and behavior in people. For me, I become very critical of my work and myself. This of course puts a damper on my creativity and motivation. It has been a few weeks since I’ve used my camera and I haven’t even wanted to look at it; hence the lack of activity for my blog the last couple of weeks. I woke up early this morning (3:00 a.m.) with the idea of posting some pictures from my archive collection, determined to overcome my SADness. But as I looked through my collections, I could feel the SADness overtaking my willpower. I didn’t like any of the pictures and of course my internal critic was being extra harsh about the quality. Feeling disgusted, I went back to bed but was unable to fall back to sleep. I lay there feeling guilty about not posting on my blog. After tossing and turning for couple of hours, I felt that I should at least make a post to let my readers know that I need to take a longer break. As I sat in front of the computer composing my post, the sun came out and cast a beautiful glow on the tree outside my office window. Somehow seeing the colorful autumn leaves dancing in the sunlight brought back my motivation. I thought I would take a picture of the tree and use it for today’s post. But something clicked after I took the first shot…

I took another…

And another… and another… each shot got me  to think more creatively with the composition and lighting.

During the shooting process, I used the sunlight to my advantage. It was a great opportunity for creating interesting bokeh effects and shallow depth of field. I experimented with different exposures to capture the details and contrast of the leaves and colors. And the next thing I know, I shot over 100 images of the trees around my neighborhood.

While I’m not exactly 100% back to “Normal” but at least I feel better today than I have in the past few weeks. Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend… happy shooting! 🙂

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Photographers Make Lousy Companions

On the way home from our recent road trip to the Big Four Ice Caves, Jean Yves told me he felt alone and neglected. Even though we go on the road trips together but when we arrive at our destination, he always end up having to babysit the furry kids and I’m usually off somewhere else with my camera. I know… I have to admit he’s right. And I have to say he has been quite supportive about my photography addiction and never really complain much… I do spend most of the time exploring on my own with the camera when we are out and about. While I do try to make time to be with him and the furry kids — oftentimes, the addiction to my camera is just too overpowering. It’s so hard for me to not to see something I want to photograph. And yet, it’s difficult for me to concentrate when he waits for me. I do my best work when I’m alone.

As always, we started out walking together and then… as soon as we got to the pond, I took out the tripod. Knowing the routine, Jean Yves and the furry kids went on ahead to see the ice caves. I told him I would take a few pictures and then catch up with them. Of course… as usual… easier said then done. It took me over an hour to walk the short 1 mile trail to the ice caves.  There were so many beautiful and interesting things beckon me to photograph them:

Thick rainforest filled with tall, moss covered trees.

Tiny mushrooms with interesting textures, details and colors.

Cloud covered mountain peaks with water falls.

Finally when I made it to the ice caves, we did explore the area and enjoyed the beautiful scenery together.

I had the intention of walking back with them but… the views going back looks different. With out a word, Jean Yves and the furry kids — once again, headed off with me trailing behind.

YES!  I admit, I make a lousy companion when I have my camera with me. But… I have a feeling I am not alone in this predicament with our domestic partner. 😉

Floating on Cloud Nine

Every photographer’s worst nightmare: You accidentally deleted your entire photo file — and you emptied the trash can! That’s exactly what happened to me yesterday. I lost over 7000 photographs from my Lightroom3.

And just how did I ever do such stupid thing??!! I was organizing and cleaning out files to make the computer work more efficiently. I decided to move the Lightroom3 catalog backup files to an external hard drive before updating the Lightroom3 software. Easy enough process. The stupid mistake was that after updating to version 3.5 and before exiting the program, for some reason, thinking I already have the file on the external hard drive; I clicked on the “don’t backup at this time”. And because I told it not to back up so when the new updated Lightroom program closed, it basically started with a clean darkroom. Thinking my files were safe, I deleted all the old files and then emptied the trash can from my computer.

When I restarted the computer and it was running better. I was so happy and proud of myself — that is until I opened the Lightroom and it was empty. At first I wasn’t too concern because I thought I have to reload the main library catalog and when I went to the backup file on the external drive — the folder was empty. I felt my heart dropped to the pit of my stomach as I frantically checked again and again… without success. After I frantically searched and opened every file on the computer — and the external hard drive without finding my photos — I just sat and stare at the blank Lightroom library with such disbelief, not sure if I want to scream or cry. However, I did neither… there was no time to kick myself — all I could think of was that there has to be some way I can retrieve my precious pictures. Thank goodness for Google. I kept searching for solutions until I found a software that retrieve files deleted from an emptied trash can. To make the long story short, I bought the software and was able to recover all my files! When I saw all my thumbnail images on the Lightroom3 library, I started jumping, laughing and crying with joy as if I have just won the lottery. The furry kids looked at me as if I was crazy. But I felt like I was floating on cloud nine.

The moral of the story… always click “YES” when asked if you want to back up — even if you did it minutes before. Or else you just might regret it. I know I will never make that same mistake again. 🙂

Creative Reflections in The Pond

Finally there was a break from the rainy weather yesterday. I wished for the sun but after days of gray, rainy weather; I was very happy to settled for a cloudy day. At least I can get out and shoot some fall colors. We took a road trip to Big Four mountain or also known as Big Four Ice Caves. I have never been there before so I was excited by the prospect of taking pictures of ice caves. The trip was short. It took about an hour to get there from my house. As I stood in front of the majestic looking mountain peaks, I felt very grateful to be able to experience such beauty.

The elevation of the mountain is about 6,135 ft (1,870 m) and the ice caves are easily accessible with a short hike through the dense forest on a very well maintained trail.

On the way to the ice caves, I came a cross a nice little pond with the mountain reflection. I took a few shots. Unfortunately, the clouds were thick so the lighting condition wasn’t the best for getting the bright fall colors I was looking for.

I didn’t like the dark clouds in the water. And decided to zoom in and use longer exposure to brighten the water.

The result was better but overall, I still find the scene rather boring looking. So… I zoom in some more… all the way up to the maximum of the lens — which is 250mm. And when I looked into the view finder — something clicked in my creative brain. I was very excited by what I saw.  The reflections from the vegetation and tree branches created an amazing array of colors, textures, and details. I knew this was the kind of shots that would get my creativity working.




As I was busy composing, I saw a trout jumped out of the water causing ripples to form. Unfortunately, I wasn’t quick enough to shoot the fish jumping but very glad the ripples changed the stillness of the water. I love the painterly feel the ripples created.

It took me over an hour to make the 1 mile hike to the ice caves. Hey… there were a lot of distractions along the way. And yes, I did take photos of the ice caves — but since it was too dangerous to go into the caves — the photos from the outside wasn’t too impressive. A black hole covered with dirty snow is about as attractive as the yellow snow. 😉

Life have a way of creating opportunities when you least expect it. I certainly enjoyed the creative reflections in the pond. 🙂